Wednesday, February 4, 2015


Wonder by R.J. Palacio is about a boy named August who is as ordinary as any other boy. He loves Star Wars, playing video games, and spending time with his family. But there is one thing that makes August different. He was born with a genetic facial disorder that makes him look very different from other people and prevented him from attending mainstream school due to him needing many medical treatments. That is, until fifth-grade when August is able to start attending middle school. This is an adjustment for both August and his classmates. But along the way, August is able to meet people who opt to "choose kindness" and make his first year of school a success.

Although Wonder has plenty of moments that could break your heart, one of the hardest parts of the book for me to read was when the Pullman's dog Daisy passes away. I didn't expect to cry while reading, but all of a sudden, in the middle of Starbucks, the waterworks were just coming. I connected to this part of the story strongly because my family and I had to put my dog Shadow down in November. He was experiencing health problems just like Daisy so I could easily relate to how August's parents were feeling about having to make the choice to end their dog's suffering. It was one of the hardest things my family had to do and we are all still trying to cope with the loss.

My reaction to this part of the book made me think about something. When I read about the death of a human, I feel sad and upset but I almost never cry (Unless it is extremely sad like The Fault in Our Stars or My Sisters Keeper. Then pass the tissues, please!). However, when the death of an animal is involved, I can't seem to control my tears. This makes me wonder, why am I more likely to cry over the death of an animal than that of a human? I feel like many of my friends and family experience this as well. I'm not sure if we have just become conditioned to hearing or reading about the death of other humans or if it is something else that triggers such a response.

Another thing I thought about after reading was that even though I empathized with August, I could not help myself from putting myself in the other character's shoes. When I think about Jack, Summer, and Charollette, I admire their courage to befriend August and the kindness that they treat August, and others, with. Although I would like to say that I would have made the same choices as them if I was in a similar situation in middle school, I am not so sure that I would. This is not because I am mean-spirited or extremely shallow. I am just not sure if I would have felt confident enough to drift away from the crowd. I wish that I had been able to read Wonder when I was in middle school because I think it would have helped me to consider those who were bullied or treated differently and to try to find a way to "choose kindness" just like Jack, Summer, Charollette, and eventually the rest of August's fifth grade class did. And although I can not go back in time and choose kindness, Wonder was a nice reminder that when in doubt, always choose to be kind.


  1. Christina,
    Wonder sounds like a really interesting and relatable story! I have heard so many great reviews of it, yet have never taken the time to read it. Definitely adding it to my must read list over break! As I was reading your post, I found myself making connections to Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli. Although Stargirl did not have a genetic facial disorder, she was treated diffterently due to her appearance and personality. I wish that she had friends like Jack, Summer and Charlette to turn to. Having others who treated her kind, may have been helpful when dealing with such rude and offensive classmates. Did being seen as "different" impact August emotionally while at school? It must have been comforting to have such kind-hearted friends to support him, but did he still feel a sense of isolation? I can't wait to read this book over break!

  2. Keara,

    I think I may have been a little misleading in my post. Although Jack, Summer, and Charlotte were wonderful and kind-hearted, they still had trouble accepting Auggie for who he is at first. However, what matters most is that in the end these three, and other classmates, "chose kindness." But before his classmates did treat Auggie with kindness and respect, his being seen as "different" really did impact Auggie. He was very sensitive and often felt hurt due to the way his classmates treated him and spoke about him. And even though he had Summer to eat lunch with and Jack sometimes, he did feel that isolation because there were plenty of kids who would not go anywhere near Auggie. This will all make more sense when you read it over break and you'll understand why I chose to be so vague in my post. I would be so sad if I ruined any part of this book for you! Also, if you look ahead at my more recent posts, R.J. Palacio wrote a short sequel to Wonder that tells the story from the ultimate bully's point of view. If your copy does not come with this, let me know so you can borrow mine! It is a must read!